East Greenwich, Rhode Island
East Greenwich is a town and the county seat of Kent County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 13,146 at the 2010 census. East Greenwich is the wealthiest municipality within the state of Rhode Island. It is part of the Providence metropolitan statistical area and the Greater Boston combined statistical area.
Formed as Greenwich in 1677, it was named for Greenwich, England. It was renamed Dedford in 1686 but reverted to its original name in 1689. In 1741 the more rural western three-quarters of the town was set off as West Greenwich, the remaining quarter of it thenceforth being called East Greenwich. Until 1854, it was one of the five state capitals for Rhode Island. The General Assembly, when meeting in East Greenwich, used the local courthouse, which is today the town hall. East Greenwich Village is located in the northeastern part of the town and extends north about 0.93 mi (1.5 km) into the city of Warwick, Rhode Island. The town is now known for its waterfront, renowned school district, and downtown restaurant/shopping district.
East Greenwich, the 8th oldest town in Rhode Island, was founded in October 1677 by the General Assembly in an attempt to solidify land claims against those of Connecticut and the Narragansett Proprietors. The Assembly designated 5000 acres to the new town and provided lots to settlers who would agree to live there: land was deeded to 48 men who had fought in King Phillip’s War against the Wampanoag. Locals quickly took the assembly up on this offer, and the quick establishment of the town helped hold back plans of Connecticut in pushing their border eastward. East Greenwich was therefore the only Rhode Island town established by an act of government, not commercial interests. In 1687, the Narragansett Proprietors attempted to settle land north of Wickford which overlapped with the land of East Greenwich; however, the Massachusetts governor Sir Edmund Andros, who had authority to settle the dispute, ruled in favor of the existing East Greenwich settlement.
In the 18th century, the government released previously reserved waterfront property in small lots. Beginning in 1711, the local government granted these lots to any person who would pay one shilling and promise to build a commercial building of a minimum size. By 1725, a community had developed, complete with a schoolhouse and a graveyard. However, citizens of the town complained that attending town meetings was too difficult due to the size of the town, which prompted the splitting of West Greenwich into its own town in 1741. The town erected a courthouse when East Greenwich was designated the shire town of the newly formed Kent County, which had been separated from Providence County in 1750. On June 12, 1772, a resolution was passed by the Rhode Island State Assembly to form the United States’ first Navy in East Greenwich, which included two ships, the Katy and the Washington. The Assembly put Captain Abraham Whipple in charge of this new military branch and these ships, with the formal title commodore.
In its colonial days, the town was also home to followers of a former Quaker who, after a severe illness, claimed to have died and been resurrected as the “Public Universal Friend”; these followers financed a meeting-house within the town.
Most of East Greenwich’s neighborhood of Scalloptown was destroyed by 1926, after a mass eviction order by the town council left most of its buildings vacant. Scalloptown had been the attention of reformers in town for some time. Scalloptown was the site of “Neighborhood House”, a settlement house run by Sarah Fernandis from 1908 on. But, historian Catherine Streich argues, the racial prejudices of white East Greenwich residents and their dwindling desire for social reform lead to their destruction of Scalloptown.
The current East Greenwich Free Library, at 82 Pierce Street, was endowed by Daniel Albert Peirce in 1913. Pierce was a local resident and co-founder of the Narragansett Electric Company. The library building is built of granite from Coventry, Rhode Island, and was dedicated on June 29, 1915. The library includes special collections on Rhode Island history and genealogy.
As of the United States Census of 2000, there were 12,948 people, 4,960 households, and 3,541 families residing in the town. The population density was 781.0 people per square mile (301.5/km2). There were 5,226 housing units at an average density of 315.2 per square mile (121.7/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.64% White, 0.69% African American, 0.06% Native American, 2.50% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.29% from other races, and 0.82% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.90% of the population.
There were 4,960 households, out of which 36.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.5% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.6% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.12.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 27.5% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 27.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $98,063, and the median income for a family was $130,221. Males had a median income of $101,578 versus $90,934 for females. The per capita income for the town was $58,593. About 2.5% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.1% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 66 or over.
In 2012–2016, according to the Rhode Island Department of Labor, the median family income was $142,648, the highest in Rhode Island.
East Greenwich and the adjacent Warwick neighborhoods of Cowesett and Potowomut are served by several media outlets: East Greenwich News (daily) East Greenwich Patch (daily), The East Greenwich Pendulum (weekly), The North East Independent (weekly) and East Greenwich magazine (monthly).